Saturday, December 22, 2018

Battling the Gloom


It wasn't a terrible surprise to read the morning's severe wind warning from Environment Canada. A look outside had stolen the government's thunder. Yeah, it's windy again just as it has been for days.  Then a cellphone call from Nanaimo where friends had their power restored late yesterday afternoon around the same time as ours came back on. They're out again. I guess it's time to bring in another couple of loads of firewood.

Maybe we need a more robust electrical grid out here, something more capable of coping with these heavy winds. Money, money, money I suppose.

I felt badly with the previous post, the one about natural feedback loops and how they can cascade much like dominoes. That's pretty grim stuff for the holiday season. Perhaps it would be best to leave climate change untouched for the next few days.

Much to my delight, I came across an opinion piece by The Guardian's Jonathan Freedland, an uplifting, "take heart" op-ed:

Like I say, there’s no shortage of bad news. The truth is, in the post-crash era of Trump, Brexit and rising populist ultranationalism, the supply of ill tidings is both plentiful and serious. But it’s Christmas, with its promise of a few days’ pause. Now, as it did more than a century ago, Christmas offers the possibility of a truce. That’s welcome in itself, but it also gives us a chance to think how we might manage the bleakness around us, once hostilities resume in the new year. Put simply, we need some strategies to cope with an increasingly harsh world. What might they be? 
My first two suggestions are escape and escapism. By escape, I mean limiting your exposure to the toxicity. Odd for a journalist to say this, perhaps, but unless you’re professionally required to consume news around the clock, don’t do it. It’s not good for you. That doesn’t mean switching off; it means reducing your dose. Perhaps decide on a few specific times when you’ll check in: a morning bulletin on the radio; a train ride with, I don’t know, the Guardian; a half-hour session in the evening. And keep it at that.
..So much for escape. Escapism is different, but no less essential. Ignore your inner puritanical voice, telling you that every moment not spent demonstrating against austerity is a self-indulgent waste, and allow yourself the odd moment of refuge. It can be tending the allotment or going to the football. I was a relatively late convert to the beautiful game, but after nearly a decade of going to see Arsenal, I’ve never needed it as much as I do now. 
I feel the same way about the countryside. Just a few hours trudging up a hillside in the Lake District or walking a long stretch of spectacular Norfolk beach can suddenly make the technical details of the customs union recede into the distance. The timelessness of those places is reassuring: it says, this too will pass. 
And if human beings are driving you to distraction, animals might offer comfort. My extended family has acquired several dogs in the last year or so, and they too both demand and provide at least some detachment from the woes of the world. I have even, I confess, hit the “like” button on the odd animal video in recent months, grateful for the few seconds of balm they supply.
Still, we can’t give up on our fellow human beings – and we don’t need to. It can help, when next driven to spitting rage by the callousness, cruelty or incompetence of those who rule us, to be reminded of what humans are also capable of. It could be a sublime achievement in art, music, literature or sport – whether that’s a Jimmy Anderson inswinger to uproot off-stump, or Andy Nyman’s Tevye in a new production of Fiddler on the Roof.

Or it could be a scientific advance that makes the jaw drop. Around the time Theresa May was unveiling her political agreement with the EU, Nasa landed its InSight probe on an exact spot on Mars following a journey of 300m miles and seven months, instantly broadcasting pictures of the red planet that you could see on a computer the size of your hand, also known as a phone. In June, doctors announced that they had rid a woman of advanced breast cancer, using immune cells from her own body to wipe out the tumours. A month later, in Thailand, divers rescued 12 boys from a network of flooded caves and cramped tunnels, carrying and pulling them to safety against impossible odds. Our species is capable of extraordinary things.

...So yes, there is much darkness all around. Sometimes it can feel like we’re swallowed up by it. But there are also countless points of light. This Christmas, I will watch the old film yet again and remind myself that it’s a wonderful life – and yes, despite everything, it’s still a wonderful world.

4 comments:

Kate Lynch said...

Awesome post.Thanks for sharing

Purple library guy said...

Or maybe you need a bunch of solar panels and a big-ass battery, and to hell with the grid.

Purple library guy said...

Here's something positive, Jeremy Corbyn's climate plan:
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/24/labour-government-tackle-climate-change

May never happen, but God it's good to hear some people talking who seem to genuinely halfway get it.

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